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New MenManliness in Early America$
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Thomas A. Foster

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814727805

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814727805.001.0001

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“Play the Man … for Your Bleeding Country”

“Play the Man … for Your Bleeding Country”

Military Chaplains as Gender Brokers During the American Revolutionary War

Chapter:
(p.236) 12 “Play the Man … for Your Bleeding Country”
Source:
New Men
Author(s):

Janet Moore Lindman

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814727805.003.0013

This chapter examines masculinity and ministry during the American Revolution. Beginning in the middle of the eighteenth century, the emergence of evangelical revivalism led to a new form of manhood, one based on Christian concepts of humility, piety, and sobriety. American evangelicals counseled withdrawal from secular society in favor of prayer, contemplation, and circumspect behavior, as male converts to evangelical Christianity trod a new path toward manhood. The exemplar of this ideal was the minister, who provided male leadership within the church but also endorsed and acted out Christian principles of prudence, temperance, meditation, and abstention from sinful activities and worldly pursuits. When the war against Britain began, this exemplary role was taken on by military chaplains, pious believers who abhorred violence and dissension and yet wished to serve their country as men. Two different modes of white masculinity came together in the role of the military chaplain during the American Revolutionary War. Clergy who served as chaplains with the American forces censored the customs of military life at the same time that they bolstered traditional manliness through religious leadership and rhetoric. Chaplains functioned as gender brokers in this military context, fusing the seeming contradiction of traditional male traits, such as contention and combativeness, with the female characteristics of clerical service: nurturing the sick, consoling the dying, and tending to the dead.

Keywords:   masculinity, ministry, American Revolution, manliness, Christianity, chaplains, clergy, American evangelicals

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